Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lemon Shortbread with Fresh Rosemary

There is a coffee shop near my office called Blue Bottle that has the most amazingly decadent shortbread cookies.  They have two kinds of shortbread - an olive oil rosemary shortbread and a savory parmesan shortbread with fennel (which I will be making the next time we have people over because they are absolutely delicious - recipe available here).  Both of them are buttery and scrumptious, but I was looking for a dessert cookie so I decided to make some rosemary shortbread.  I spent a few minutes searching for a recipe and then came across a few different lemon and rosemary shortbread recipes that sounded promising.  So I picked one, threw together the dough and left it in the fridge to chill.  And then it kept chilling for a few days until I had the time to bake it because Alex cut me off on baking and cooking on Christmas Day since I made fudge that morning (more on that later) and we were already making duck, brussels sprouts, cornbread and salad for dinner.  Suffice it to say that I get a little over-ambitious sometimes and Alex has to rein me in.

These shortbread cookies are exactly the type of elegant little cookies I think should be served at high tea.  Or at a wedding/baby shower.  They are light, fresh and very easy to munch on.  The flavors of the lemon and rosemary are pronounced, but are balanced nicely by the buttery flavor of the shortbread and the crunch of the turbinado sugar sprinkled on top.  Brief side note - turbinado sugar is one of my favorite baking ingredients because it gives you those little bursts of sweetness and that nice crunch on top.  You have to be a little careful when baking with an herb like rosemary because a little goes a long way and you don't want to feel like you are eating a pine tree.  I felt like this was the perfect amount.  I do have one caveat - if you served a platter full of homemade chocolate chip cookies on one side and these shortbread cookies on the other they might be overlooked, but on their own they shine quite nicely.

Recipe after the jump!

Lemon Shortbread with Fresh Rosemary Adapted from Serious Eats

3 cups (about 15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated zest from 2 lemons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and rosemary, and mix for 30 seconds. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix for1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface that has been covered with a piece of parchment or wax paper.  Form dough into 2 logs 10 inches long and 1 1/4 inches in diameter.  Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper with an outside wrapping of aluminum foil and chill. 

Adjust oven rack to middle posision and preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; peel off aluminum foil and parchment or wax paper, and put the dough on a cutting board. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick rounds.  Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle a pinch of Turbinado sugar on top of each cookie.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until they are slightly golden around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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